Who’s your One – part 4
The doctrine of hell seems to be outmoded in these days, we don’t like to talk about it, and contrary to a few decades ago where it was preached regularly and taught clearly, today it seems to be viewed as old fashioned and irrelevant. Part of the problem I believe, is that in the past few decades the evangelical world has focused so much on the love of God, which is a primary characteristic of His nature, that we find tension when we wish to discuss the judgment of God and eternal consequence for sin.
But the doctrine of eternal punishment is clearly taught in scripture. In fact, Jesus spoke three times more about Hell than he did about Heaven.
The descriptions that Jesus uses for Hell involve fire and a place of torment. In Mark 9:48, Jesus calls it a fire that is not quenched. Revelation 20:15 calls Hell a lake of fire. Some argue that the term “fire” may be symbolic, and even if we say that then it must represent something that is worse than we can possibly imagine.
If we try to take the lake of fire and the fiery furnace as symbolic, we must be confronted with the terrible thought that these symbols are not overstatements, but rather understatements of a reality that we would otherwise not be able to grasp.
Jesus also taught that Hell is a place of conscious torment in Luke 16, and in Matthew 22:13 he said it is a place of outer darkness. Not only is hell eternal it is also conscious, all the images that we read of hell in the Bible point to the fact that it is going to be an experiential eternity. Experiencing of the wrath of God, it is the reality of our sins before an infinitely holy God.
But the wonderful news that we have today is that Hell is escapable. No-one has to spend eternity in torment, anyone can be saved. Jesus took our punishment on the cross and as a result, those who place their trust in him as their personal Lord and savior will escape the fire of hell.
When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and asked that the cup be taken from him in Matthew 26:39, he was not simply asking for the occasion to be taken away, he was looking to the prophetic revelation John received in Revelation 14 describing the punishment of those who worshipped the beast in the last days. Jesus experienced the cup of God’s wrath. The Beloved Son became sin for us and experienced the full amount of the wrath of God, as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Jesus took the full punishment of the wrath of God, Jesus the eternal son of God, always in the presence of God, was separated from God as God had to turn away from him when he took on the sins of the world. That is the suffering of Jesus on the cross, the physical pain was real but the cup of the wrath of God was infinitely more painful and excruciating.
The future judgment of unbelievers will not only be final and irreversible, it will also be eternal. Based on Scripture, we must reject the doctrine of universalism, which is so prevalent today, which says that all people will eventually be saved.
It is important to note that God does not send anyone to hell (1 Peter 3:9). It is not God’s choice to have man spend eternity in hell, but the sin choices of the individual sends them there. As C.S. Lewis wrote; “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.” Ever since Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God mankind has been saying to God; “go away and leave me alone” Hell is God’s way of granting that wish.
Hell is not an easy subject to talk about, but we must, it is imperative that we are provoked to share the wonderful message of the Gospel with others because we are driven with compassion for them. The reason we are driven by compassion is that we know that we too are sinners saved only by the grace of God.
John Piper wrote; “When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the Gospel passes from good news to simply news.”
The more we realize and remember how close we came to destruction; the more keenly will we feel compassion and urgency to rescue those around us from a similar plight.
We need to feel the underserved grace that has been given to us, not because we did anything, but because it was a free gift that plucked us from the fires of hell.
We simply don’t love the lost because we don’t truly believe in the reality of hell
There is almost a sick pride within us, whereby we feel that for some reason we deserve to be saved and others simply are not making good decisions, therefore we are more deserving than them. My friends we are no better and no more deserving of grace than anyone else. We must remember that Jesus himself said that we didn’t choose him, he chose us.
The Gospel is really Good News, who are you sharing it with?